Marana CSTEM School

Marana’s new computer science and technology-focused K-8 school is set to open for the 2019-20 school year.

The Marana Unified School District revealed details for its new, still-unnamed K-8 CSTEM school last week. The school, set to open fall 2019 at 5650 W. Moore Road in Dove Mountain, will focus its curriculum on Computer Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Classrooms will be equipped with “zSpace” augmented and virtual reality labs. These labs equip students with virtual reality goggles so they can interact with digitized objects in their lessons, such as animals or chemicals which would otherwise be fragile, dangerous or expensive. 

According to MUSD, the technology allows for the students to “learn by doing without fear of spilling chemicals, blowing a circuit and with the chance to make mistakes and easily try again, encouraging them to take risks, solve problems, while building  confidence and increasing understanding.” 

The school will also have “makerspace learning areas” to provide students with hands-on learning in designing and inventing.  

“Computer science is going to be integrated into what we do everyday,” said Andrea Divijak, upcoming principal of the K-8 CSTEM school. “Someone asked me, ‘Why isn’t there a STEM elective class?’ and I told her it’s because we don’t need it; they’re already getting that in every class.” 

Divijak was principal at Quail Run Elementary, and applied for this new position in January 2018.

“I heard about it and knew I needed to be part of starting something this amazing,” Divijak said. “Dove Mountain has been in need of a school like this built in the community for years.” 

The community will help choose aspects of the new school. MUSD is receiving submissions for the new school’s colors, mascot and, of course, name.

“The school name is the hardest to choose,” said Kristin Stutzman, who will teach at the new school. “It’s stumping everyone.” 

Divijak hopes to have a school name nailed down by next January, most likely within the first week back from Winter Break. 

The school is estimated to hold 450 to 500 students, and already 100 applications have been submitted. 

Although the school’s focus is computer science, electives and physical education will be standard as well. Another section of community submission is the school’s electives. MUSD is holding elections for some of the classes the students will take, including: art, band, choir, dance, drama, guitar, orchestra and Spanish.

“We’re not going to be going full tech,” said MUSD superintendent Doug Wilson. “We’ll still have textbooks, be writing and have books in our library.” 

There are multiple STEM electives as well, such as coding and competing in the “Odyssey of the Mind” competition. The athletic choices at the K-8 school vary between grades, but include cross country, basketball, soccer, volleyball and track. 

“Even though our focus is STEM, they’re still kids, and outdoor programs will be provided.” Wilson said. 

Although it’s a K-8 school, it will also provide preschool services, with before- and after-school care. After eighth grade, MUSD plans for students at the new school to transition into Mountain View High School. Wilson says that, although Mountain View isn’t explicitly a computer science school, it has a robust enough program to welcome in the future CSTEM students. 

“It’s amazing what we can do in education with all this new technology,” Divijak said. 

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